Many responded with gasps and some even shook their heads as a show that featured the story of missing teen LaTania Janell Carwell provided some details about the 16-year-old’s disappearance but one — where is she.
Angela Harden, a local radio talk show host and community activist, hosted the viewing Friday of the episode of Crime Watch Daily, a national crime show. She said the occasion was “special” for those affected by the case.
“It’s a time of reflection, a time of sharing and tears, but joy at the same time that what we prayed for months ago God answered our prayers,” Harden said. ” We wanted it to get national attention, and national attention is necessary to keep her alive. We don’t want her story to die.”
After the teen’s disappearance April 17, Harden took to the airwaves and reached out into the community to spread awareness of the teen’s case with hopes of her safe return home.
Initiatives began with local prayer vigils and fasting, and expanded into other efforts once the teen’s case was ruled a homicide. Harden said these initiatives will continue until Carwell is found.
“Hopefully the conversation of Janell will continue in the community,” she said Friday. “We don’t want to forget.”
Harden presented another initiative at the gathering at Henry H. Brigham Community Center, one that focuses on others who are missing in the area.
Harden, in partnership with the family of Julian Williams, 23, of Augusta, who disappeared March 26 after being last seen on the 700 block of Broad Street and found 30 days later behind an abandoned trailer at 211 Spider Wed Road in Beech Island, will work to form an organization that will assist local families of missing persons.
The J-Alert, the ‘J’ representing both Julian and Janell, will work as a watch group that will send notifications for families of those who have gone missing.
“It’s the CSRA missing persons alert where we will send out a J-alert with things that are happening,” Harden said. “Just like an Amber alert - as soon as an abduction has taken place an Amber alert goes out, well as soon as a person goes missing a J-alert will go out.”
The organization is expecting to launch the new initiative, which focuses on the first 48 hours after a person’s disappearance, by year’s end.
“We know that that’s a crucial time,” Harden said. “When a person goes missing it’s almost 48 hours or so for the police to get involved but there are some things that the family and the community can do right away.”
Next steps for the group include meeting with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to pitch the concept and get more feedback on ways it can be incorporated.
“We need to begin to police our community,” Harden said. “God led us to some procedures and like a handbook to take care of things right away, and we believe it would help to bring missing persons back home. So we definitely want the blessings if you may of the sheriff’s department so they know what we’re doing.”